Jebala Market Project

Artist Residency in Tetouan, Morocco

Socially engaged art seeks to blur the line between art and life. As a printmaker and socially engaged artist, my goal for the residency in Tetouan, Morocco was to make art outside of the studio and to invite others to create with me. 

 

"Jebala" means "mountain," a word used to describe the people who live in the countryside, the mountains surrounding Tetouan. The Jebala women commute into the city each day to sell their goods at the market. As I visited the Jebala market regularly, I went from a passerby to being invited behind the counter to sit and spend time with the women selling there. I would sketch their vegetables while they taught me new words and phrases in Arabic. I was surprised at how much they loved having me there even though I couldn’t speak their language. With some help from Green Olive Arts, we invited them to collaborate on a project. The vegetables that they sell each day were perfect tools for creating. I showed them how to cut, ink and print different kinds of vegetables. Most of the Jebala people don't know how to read or write, which created great hesitation to participate on the project. However after a couple of people tried it and had successful results, more and more people joined us. They started to call their friends over, and to teach them the process too. We experimented with the natural designs from inside the cabbage, the shapes of peppers and beets, as well as patterns we carved into carrots. Rachel from Green Olive Arts helped each participant sign their names in Arabic. When she didn't know how to spell some of the names, we'd find someone in the market who could write and they would show us. We worked on a large Jebala mendil, a traditional cloth that the women wear on their waists, over their shoulders, and sometimes to wrap their vegetables to carry them into the markets. Many vendors, shoppers and children at the market participated by printing and drawing on the Jebala mendil until evening came and the vendors began to pack up in preparation for the journey back home.  

 

Along with this collaboration, I used materials from the Jebala Market to experiment in the studio. I bought a variety of herbs and greens to create eco-prints on fabric. Eco-printing is a technique where plants are bundled inside cloth and boiled to release their color, shapes and marks.

IMG_20180720_220247.jpg

Jebala Market Project, 2018

Vegetable printing, acrylic and drawing on Jebala mendil

IMG_20180720_220225 copy.jpg

Air and Mountain, 2018

Eco-print and relief on Jebala mendil and wool

IMG_20180720_220527.jpg

Green Olive Arts, Tetouan, Morocco

July 20, 2018